Probe CBI former chief's meetings: SC

Probe CBI former chief's meetings: SC

Apex court seeks CVC help in Sinha case

Probe CBI former chief's meetings: SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday said an inquiry is “necessary” against former CBI director Ranjit Sinha over his “completely inappropriate” meetings with coal scam accused at his residence here, holding that the investigation must not only be fair but appear to be conducted in a fair manner.

A three-judge bench presided over by Justice Madan B Lokur issued notice to the anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), seeking assistance to determine the methodology for conducting such an inquiry.

The court passed its order on a plea made by NGO Common Cause for a special investigation team (SIT) probe against Sinha for scuttling the investigation into the scam in view of his frequent meetings (90 to 130 times) with accused between 2013 and 2014 as disclosed from purported visitors' register.

Sinha, who retired on December 2 last, faced major embarrassment after a visitors' logbook showed his meetings with the high-profile accused in the 2G case and those associated with coal block allocation like Congress MP Vijay Darda, his son Devendra Darda and former Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay.

“What is of greater importance and what has caused us considerable concern is that neither Sinha nor the CBI denies that Sinha had met some persons, including the Dardas, who are accused of criminality in the coal block allocations case without the investigating officer or the investigating team being present,” the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri and Kurian Joseph, said. 

Sinha claimed he had an “open house” and his meetings per se never influenced the probe. The CBI, on its part, defended its director saying that there was no official register maintained at his residence.

Agreeing to the NGO's contention, the court said it is necessary to look into the question if any one or more such meetings of Sinha with accused persons have had any impact on the investigations and subsequent charge sheets or closure report filed in coal scam cases.

“What is of importance is that as justice must not only be done but it must also appear to have been done, similarly, investigations must not only be fair but must appear to have been conducted in a fair manner. The fact that Sinha met some of the accused persons without the investigating officer or the investigating team being present disturbs us with regard to the fairness of the investigations,” the bench said.

The court rejected Sinha's plea for action against advocate Prashant Bhushan, NGO and its secretary for perjury and violating the Contempt of Court Act and the Official Secrets Act for obtaining office files relating to the probe and not disclosing the name of the whistleblower.